I've been reading and reading about my problem and not finding a solution... Can someone please explain this to me? I'm sorry for the bad picture... How should my settings be? I usually shoot with 2 second exposer, but now when I turn it to even 1 second it makes my shot completely white like the first picture.. I don't understand how I should be setting the white balance either. Hope someone can help...
Have you tried going the opposite way with a short exposure or different iso? Have you cleaned your sensor?
Simply put, try messing around with the setting and see if you can get an image that works at all. Then maybe you can try to get back to the long exposure you want from there adding one piece at a time.
You're going to have to spend some time reading through parts of the manual to familiarize yourself with how to control certain things. One of these is ISO, which is a brightness setting. If you want to use a long exposure you need to set the ISO pretty low - I usually keep it at 200. If you set a high ISO it makes the picture brighter but it will also make it grainy, which I'm assuming you don't want. So keep ISO low and instead use a longer exposure.
The aperture on the lens might also be open too far. It's another way of letting in more light to get a brighter picture. So all 3 of those elements (ISO, aperture, and exposure time) need to be balanced out to get a good picture. And yeah, it's confusing when you first start messing with manual camera settings, but in a day or 2 you'll have it figured out. Just take some time to read through the manual - look for how to set the ISO. It'll be accessed through a menu page, unless your camera has a dedicated dial for it. Once you've got that set to 100 or 200 then start fiddling with the aperture - if you've got a manual lens it's adjusted by turning a ring on the lens, like the one you focus with. If the lens isn't manual then it's controlled through camera settings and that's something you'll also need to learn how to set up.
If you don't have a paper manual you can download one. Just search the internet with the make and model of your camera plus the word manual. I believe every manual, or most of them anyway, are available for free as PDF files.
I haven't seen a lot of tips on avoiding flicker, which is what you were trying to fix initially, so here's how I fixed it. You didn't say what camera you use, so that could help us diagnose the issue.
I always shoot with the camera set to manual, and disable anything 'auto' in the camera's menu settings. When I started, I accidentally used the 'Ae' mode which caused a frame-by-frame adjustment of the aperature. My first mistake.
If you can get a non-kit lens, (the lens that ships with the camera) which requires an adapter ring, you'll be certain that the camera can't send a message to the kit lens. For example, I use a cheap canon body, (Rebel EOS t3), but have a few Nikon/Nikkor lenses that require adapter rings. This kills the connection between the kit lens and the body, and gives great optics.
Lastly, use lighting such as LEDs or incandescent lighting, not fluorescent lights. What I understand is that Fluorescent lights have a pretty slow refresh rate (herz) which will show up in a faster exposure.
I hope these steps make sense. We all were beginners at one point and went thru this learning curve.
Ah, maybe your lights are much brighter than you used to have? In that case what you probably need to do is reduce the exposure time enough to balance out, because the brightness of the light is another factor to be balanced with the rest.
Were you already shooting with long exposure times previously and it was working?
Are you using Dragonframe? If so, you can take a test shot (in the Cinematography window) and see how the actual frame will look onscreen. If not, take test shots with the camera, not connected to the computer, at different exposure times, f-stops, and ISO settings. Set to Manual. Set ISO to 100 or 200. With exposure at 1 sec or 1/2 sec, try setting the lens to f-16, f-11, f-8, f-5.6. You should get something that looks close to the exposure you want, and then you can make adjustments to make it brighter or darker.
Typically, I have ISO at 200, I take a 1 sec exposure, and set the lens to f-16. In DF I have to set the video compensation to +4 to get a bright enough preview image to see what I am doing. But I don't know how your lights compare to mine.
If you are using a kit lens that came with the camera, it probably does not have an aperture ring on the lens to manually set the f-stop. You will have to do it through the camera body for the tests, which will still give you and idea of what sort of exposure is going to work.
For animation, you are better off with an older, fully manual lens, and you may need to partly unscrew it so the camera body can't keep making adjustments, and so the lens will not open up between shots and only stop down when you press the shutter. (That's what I did when I used a Nikon body, now I use the manual Nikon lenses with an adapter on a Canon 7d body.) It will look darker in the viewfinder, and in the video preview in Dragonframe, but it will stay on the exact aperture you set it to, and avoid one major cause of flicker. In DF (cinematography window) you can compensate to make the video preview appear brighter so you see it while you animate. The important thing is to get the exposure right on the actual hi def images.